In which training training gets tough, Jimmy receives an unwanted phone call, and who's the German girl with Darren? Oh, and Throw Triple Axels make an appearance.
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Fire v Ice: Part II
As it turned out, Jimmy and Chazz had been given very little notice about their sudden enrolment in the Games; the first round was in 2 months. They started training, at Coach’s insistence, as soon as they left the restaurant, stopping off at the cabin only to change into training gear and grab their skates. Upon arrival at the rink, Coach demanded all the other skaters exit the rink so Jimmy and Chazz could practice. Neither of them had ever seen him like that before, a sign that he was taking it all very, very seriously.
“If either of you want to win gold this year, you need a routine that will out-shine anything you’ve ever done.”
“What if we did something with the Iron Lotus?” Jimmy suggested. Coach shook his head.
“It has to be better than the Lotus.”
“Whoa, whoa, wait a minute.” Chazz said, stepping forward. “We learn a move that can end with one of us headless, then pull it off flawlessly after being kidnapped by the psycho-twins, me breaking my ankle, and having to switch places, not to mention, we still win the gold. And you want us to outshine that?”
“Look, I know it sounds really bad, but the Olympics is a serious event, only very talented people will ever compete there. The sort of things they need to pull off...”
“Coach, who has ever pulled off an Iron Lotus before?” Jimmy asked, then amended his sentence, “Apart from us, I mean.”
“No one. But once you pull off one trick like that, people start expecting another. And another. And another. You are the guys who brought the Lotus to life; that’s a serious kind of reputation.”
“The Iron Lotus is our best move, we’re the only pair in the world that can do it!” Jimmy exclaimed, at the same time Chazz said,
“If the Lotus made our reputation, won’t fans be expecting to see it? Hell, they’ll buy tickets just to see it!”
Robert sighed and took a seat. “We’ll see, okay? Right now, waltz position. We’re going to put together a completely gold medal-worthy routine, and you’ll do it until you can’t possibly do it any better, and then some!”
The first time Coach said that, they thought he was kidding. However, after the first couple of hours, it became clear that he was very serious. From 7 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon, they practiced, only stopping to take a drink or grab a bite to eat.
That was another thing. Coach had always been strict about what food they ate -they couldn’t skate if they weren’t in good shape- but he’d never been this strict before. He locked away anything and everything alcoholic, and carried the key around with him just to make sure Chazz didn’t get hold of it.
Skittles, too, were another thing he took away, despite all Jimmy’s protests, which, in turn, were followed by Chazz’s protests that he couldn’t get any peace because Jimmy was complaining all the time.
In short, by the end of the first week, if the three of them were in the same room for more than 10 minutes, it would be wise to have a psychiatrist on standby. And an ambulance.
They thought, when Saturday finally rolled around, they would be able to rest. Saturday was their day off. Coach never let them take Sunday off. Mondays, for some reason, always seemed full of long press conferences, and even longer training sessions. Lots of things seemed to happen on Mondays, and Coach said if they trained on Sundays, they’d be more prepared for the coming Mondays. It didn’t make any sort of sense to either Jimmy or Chazz, but they found that if they simply went along with it and didn’t argue, they didn’t need to understand it.
And, either way, they still got a day off.
Or so they thought.
Much like the phone had the previous week, the alarm clock started screaming at 6 am until Jimmy was forced to get up and turn it off. He was about to decide they’d simply set it by habit the previous night and go back to sleep, but that beautiful thought was shattered by Coach opening the door and saying,
“Michaels, get that fat ass of yours out of bed. Jimmy, what are you standing there for? We need to be at the rink for 7.30!”
Jimmy just stared at him. “It’s Saturday.” he said stupidly, thinking Coach must simply have gotten confused.
“You’re training today.” Robert told him. “It’s the Olympics in 2 months; you wanna win gold, you are going to train like you mean it. By the end of today, I want that Throw Triple Axel perfect, you hear me? And then we’ll see about the Lotus.”
With that, he turned and walked out.
“That’s not fair.” Jimmy called after him, to little avail.
Protesting was useless, anyway. They were at the rink an hour later.
They started off with a few simple jumps and spins to warm up, but quickly progressed on to more advanced stuff. They practiced their Throw Triple Axel for most of the morning, stopping to take a break at 11.
“How was that, Coach?” Jimmy asked, popping a few stolen Skittles into his mouth. Coach gave him an encouraging smile. They’d done so well that morning that he decided to ignore the Skittles.
“Not bad. Tell ya what, why don’t we take a break from the Axel this afternoon and see what we can do with the Iron Lotus?”
His suggestion was met with much enthusiasm from the two skaters, who had had enough Throw-Triple-Axel-ing to last them a lifetime. The three of them sat by the side of the ice-rink for a while, sipping coffee, or, in Chazz’s case, a bottle of ice-cold beer, and discussing new techniques for the routine, when Jimmy’s phone started ringing. Coach frowned at him.
“Jimmy, you know damn well that cell phone should be switched off.”
Jimmy didn’t answer it. He’d removed that particular number from his phone a good four and a half years ago, but he’d recognise the number anywhere. He wanted to deny the call, block the number, then smash his phone into a million little pieces with his skate, but found himself unable to do anything more than stare at it. Irritated by Jimmy’s lack of response, Coach reached past Chazz and grabbed the phone out of his hand, all set to turn it off and hide it for the remainder of the session, when he too recognised the number. He pressed the ‘Answer’ button.
At once, a voice buzzed up the line. It was hard to tell what it was saying, but Jimmy could recognise the voice. The voice that he still head in his head, in his dreams...in his nightmares.
Darren MacElroy. The man he had once called ‘Dad’.
He heard Coach speaking into the phone....”Darren, what the hell are you playing at? No, I’m not letting you speak to him! Well, if you could see him now, Darren, you’d understand why!”
Before Darren could make reply, Coach pressed ‘End Call’ and shoved the phone angrily into his jacket pocket. “Damn that man.” he muttered, or words to that effect. “You okay, Jimmy?”
Jimmy looked up at him, the first sign of life he’d shown since the phone rang.
“What did he want?” he asked quietly.
“To speak to you.” Coach told him. “Of course I told him no and hung up.”
Jimmy nodded. “Good. Thanks. Uh....I’m gonna get some fresh air. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” He stood and walked away, not even bothering to take off his skates.
Once outside, the cold air bit at his face and arms, making him wish he’d brought a jacket with him. Not many people were out, so at least he had a bit of space to think.
Why had his dad called? After all this time? Was it because he’d made it to the Olympics?
And as grateful as he was to Coach for taking control of the situation, he sort of wished he had spoken to his dad...even though the thought terrified him.
He knew he ought to get back inside. He knew Chazz and Coach would be waiting for him, waiting to practice. He didn’t want to keep them waiting, but if he went back inside, there would be questions. Questions he didn’t feel ready to answer. Eventually, however, the cold forced him back inside. He couldn’t skate with frostbite, after all.
When he got back to the rink, Chazz was already on the ice, waiting for him.
“You okay, brotherman?” he asked as Jimmy skated over to him.
“What? Yeah, I’m fine....are we doing the Lotus?” Jimmy turned to Coach, eager to forget all about the past half-hour. Coach shrugged then nodded.
“I guess, if you feel ready for it. I mean, you haven’t done this in a while, so take it easy, okay?”
“ ‘Kay.” Jimmy replied, already skating into position. They had already agreed that they would keep doing it the way they had in the World Winter Sports Games, with Chazz doing the flip instead of Jimmy. Not that it really mattered, anyway; they both knew the Iron Lotus inside out, no matter who was doing what.
Jimmy had never really messed up in a routine before. Sure, there was that time at Nationals where he fell coming out of that Throw Triple Axel, but even Chazz had later admitted he hadn’t thrown him quite right.
He’d swapped places with Chazz for the Iron Lotus during the competition and still pulled it off, without killing his partner.
Of course they could do it again. Easy. No problem. It would go fine.
And it did.
Until the jump.
Normally, Jimmy’s mind would be focused on the right angle, the right timing, on not cutting Chazz’s head off. But today, his mind just wasn’t focused enough. The last thing he was aware of before hitting the ice was Chazz yelling in pain and Coach rushing out onto the ice.
Ignoring the pain in his side, Jimmy pushed himself up and took a look at what was happening around him. Coach was helping Chazz off of the ice rink, and Chazz was holding a cloth to the side of his face. He felt terror flood through him; what if Chazz was seriously hurt? None the less, he forced himself to stand and skate to the edge of the rink. Immediately, Coach turned away from Chazz and started on Jimmy.
“Jimmy, what the hell do you think you’re doing? You could have gotten Chazz killed!”
Chazz, thankfully, had not been killed, or even severely injured. His left cheek had been cut by the blade of Jimmy’s skate, but it wasn’t very deep. Jimmy, however, couldn’t see how deep the cut was, only that he’d cut him, and he was suddenly overcome with fear and remorse. The Iron Lotus was dangerous; fatal, even, to anyone who got it wrong. Jimmy had nearly killed Chazz. Chazz, not only his partner, but his friend.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered, blinking back tears that had suddenly threatened to take over. “I guess I just lost focus for a minute.”
“Well, you shouldn’t!” Coach told him sharply, then noticed the look in Jimmy’s face. “Hey, I didn’t mean to snap at you. It’s not your fault, I know today hasn’t exactly been easy on you. It’s like you said, you just lost concentration. We’ve probably had enough for today, anyway. Go and get changed and I’ll get the two of you a Chinese on the way back.”
In another city, in a lavishly decorated room in a large mansion, Darren MacElroy tossed his phone from hand to hand. A red-haired girl in skating clothes stood at the door.
“Well? Father, what did he say?” The girl sounded German.“Sorry, Al, it looks like you’re going solo for the Games. Not that it’ll matter much. All you gotta do is make sure it’s you against Jimmy in the finals, and win. After all, if he won’t be the MacElroy winner, someone has
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